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The vertebral arteries are major arteries of the neck. Typically, the vertebral arteries originate from the subclavian arteries. Each vessel courses superiorly along each side of the neck, merging within the skull to form the single, midline basilar artery. As the supplying component of the vertebrobasilar vascular system, the vertebral arteries provide supply blood to the upper spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, and posterior part of brain.[1]

Contents

StructureEdit

 
Arteries of the neck. The vertebral arteries arise from the subclavian arteries and join to form the basilar artery

The vertebral arteries arise from the subclavian arteries, one on each side of the body, then enter deep to the transverse process at the level of the 6th cervical vertebrae (C6),[1] or occasionally (in 7.5% of cases) at the level of C7. They then proceed superiorly, in the transverse foramen of each cervical vertebra.[1] Once they have passed through the transverse foramen of C1 (also known as the atlas), the vertebral arteries travel across the posterior arch of C1 and through the suboccipital triangle[citation needed] before entering the foramen magnum.[1]

Nunziante Ippolito, a Neapolitan physician, identified the "angle of Nunziante Ippolito" to find the vertebral artery, between the anterior scalene muscle and the longus colli muscle.[2]

Inside the skull, the two vertebral arteries join to form the basilar artery at the base of the Pons. The basilar artery is the main blood supply to the brainstem and connects to the Circle of Willis to potentially supply the rest of the brain if there is compromise to one of the carotids. At each cervical level, the vertebral artery sends branches to the surrounding musculature via the anterior spinal arteries.

 
Segments

The vertebral artery may be divided into four parts:

VariationEdit

There is commonly variations in the course and size of the vertebral arteries. For example, differences in size between left and right vertebral arteries may range from a slight asymmetry to marked hypoplasia of one side, with studies estimating a prevalence of unilateral vertebral artery hypoplasia between 2% to 25%.[3] In 3-15% of the population, a bony bridge called the arcuate foramen covers the groove for the vertebral artery on vertebra C1.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d editor-in-chief, Susan Standring ; section editors, Neil R. Borley; et al. (2008). Gray's anatomy : the anatomical basis of clinical practice (40th ed.). London: Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 978-0-8089-2371-8. 
  2. ^ http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/nunziante-ippolito_%28Dizionario_Biografico%29/[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Park, Jong‐Ho; Kim, Jeong‐Min; Roh, Jae‐Kyu (September 2007). "Hypoplastic vertebral artery: frequency and associations with ischaemic stroke territory". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 78 (9): 954–958. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2006.105767. ISSN 0022-3050. PMC 2117863 . PMID 17098838. 

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